Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office
Media Relations Director Adam Linhardt

Follow us on Twitter @mcsonews and on Facebook at MCSO – Florida Keys. All of our press releases can be found on our blog at floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com

May 31, 2018

Man arrested at gunpoint after fleeing from deputy

A 22-year-old Beverly Hills, Florida man who fled from a deputy was arrested early Thursday morning.

John Manuel Moraza-Melendez was charged with fleeing and eluding, operating an unregistered vehicle, illegal tags, driving with a suspended license, possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

Deputy Edward Swogger was at Mile Marker 66 shortly after 1 a.m. when Moraza-Melendez drove past in a 1995 Jeep driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit. Deputy Swogger approached the vehicle as it entered the city of Layton. The vehicle slowed and then turned into Long Key Lake Drive. Deputy Jackson activated his overhead lights and sirens. The suspect vehicle accelerated as it drove down the dead-end street. The suspect vehicle braked hard and skid across the asphalt and onto a gravel driveway before coming to a stop.

Deputy Swogger ordered Moraza-Melendez out of the car at gunpoint. When asked why he fled, Moraza-Melendez stated his license was suspended.

A small amount of marijuana was found in the console.

Moraza-Melendez was taken to jail.

Man with drugs, bullet arrested during traffic stop

A 39-year-old Key Largo man was arrested after a traffic stop on Wednesday night after he was found with cocaine and a handgun bullet.

Rory Gabriel Robles was charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Deputy Cody Jackson saw a 2010, black Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck leave a gas station near Mile Maker 99 about 10:30 p.m. and drive north on U.S. 1. Deputy Jackson was unable to read the tag due to a tinted cover. He conducted a traffic stop at Mile Marker 100. Robles stated he had already been given a warning about the tag. Deputy Swogger smelled marijuana from the vehicle. Robles was asked to step out of the vehicle. He told the deputy to talk to his lawyer. Robles was detained while Deputy Jackson and arriving Deputy Ignacio Molina searched the truck.

A pipe that tested positive for marijuana was found. Another clear, glass pipe was also found. Two, small bags containing white, powder that tested positive for cocaine were found. One .38-caliber bullet was also found in the driver’s side cup holder.

Robles was taken to jail.

May 28, 2018

Man yelling obscenities in park arrested

A 32-year-old Key West man who was yelling at park visitors and then threatened to kill deputies was arrested Sunday afternoon.

Timothy Matthew Kummer was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, threats against a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest with violence and resisting arrest without violence.

The incident began a 6:30 p.m. at Marathon Community Park. Deputies Darren Walraven, Frank Westerband and George Zakariadze went to the park regarding a drunk man who was threatening others. They found Kummer, who appeared very intoxicated. When they asked for identification, he responded with an expletive. He further refused to provide any identification. Deputies found identification in his wallet after detaining and patting him down.

Two witnesses in the park said Kummer was yelling, swearing and acting aggressive. One witness stated this occurred in front her grandchild.

When deputies went to arrest Kummer, he refused to stand up.

He was taken to jail. Once there, he was uncooperative and had to be restrained. It was there that Kummer threatened to kill deputies.

Man arrested for hitting pregnant woman

A 33-year-old Key West man was arrested Sunday night for hitting a pregnant woman numerous times.

Amado Cabrera was charged with aggravated battery in which the victim was pregnant and contempt of court for violating a domestic protection order.

Deputy Kathleen Donavon responded to Stock Island about 9 p.m. She met a woman there who stated she was eight months pregnant. She had a cut lip, bruises on her arm, chest and collarbone as well as a toenail missing.

She stated she went to dinner with her children when she received a text message from Cabrera regarding visitation with the children. She stated she went to his trailer lot at the Waters Edge Colony Mobile Home park. Cabrera stepped on her right toe. He slapped on the mouth and began punching her, including in the her stomach.

Cabrera was arrested. While en route to jail he threatened deputies by saying things such as, “everyone has a gun, remember that,” among other threatening statements.

May 27, 2018

Man arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer

A 47-year-old Key West man who threw himself into a moving vehicle on Stock Island was arrested Saturday afternoon.

Timothy Allen Smith, who was listed as homeless, was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest with violence and resisting arrest without violence.

Deputies Shannon O’Connell and Jenna Moeller went to the 5500 block of MacDonald Avenue at 1:30 p.m. in reference to a suspicious person. There they found Smith close by waving a cardboard sign and yelling at passing motorists. He was also walking into traffic. The deputies attempted to talk to Smith, in an attempt to issue him a warning about possibly hitchhiking or panhandling. Smith walked away and attempted to ignore the deputies. He then began recording them with his phone, while yelling loudly and acting more aggressive.

When Deputy O’Connell attempted to detain him, he pulled away and ran down 3rd Street. He tripped, fell into a puddle, got up and began running again. He was ordered to stop to multiple times. Smith then ran into the street and threw himself into the driver’s side window of a vehicle traveling north on 3rd Street. That driver and another motorist stopped and provided witness statements. Smith again pulled away from deputies before he was finally taken into custody a short time later.

Deputy O’Connell suffered minor cuts and injuries. Smith was first taken to Lower Keys Medical Center after requesting medical attention.

He was then taken to jail.

May 25, 2018

Man arrested for breaking wine glass on woman’s face  

A 49-year-old West Palm Beach man was charged with battery Thursday after a woman flagged a stranger down for help at a Key Largo gas station.

Dean Scott Tropeano was charged with aggravated battery and resisting arrest with violence.

The female victim had blood covering the side of face and running down her neck. Staff at Mariners Hospital had to remove glass from her face and stitch the wounds closed.

The incident began when the Sheriff’s Office was notified that a woman had asked for help at the Circle K gas station at Mile Marker 99. When Tropeano went inside to get beer, she asked a passerby for help. Deputy Cody Kerns responded. He later stopped the white pickup truck that Tropeano was driving. The woman was riding passenger. The truck was stopped at a nearby hotel where the couple was staying.

Deputy Kerns ordered Tropeano out of the truck. Tropeano said blood on his shirt came from a fishing trip. Deputy Mario Fajardo responded to the scene as well. Deputy Fajardo contacted the woman who was crying. He immediately noticed she required medical attention due to the large amount of blood on her face and neck. The woman initially said she had fallen while fishing. The woman often turned her face away from Deputy Fajardo. Deputy Fajardo told the woman she was now safe. The woman responded, “Help me.”

At this time, Deputy Kerns gave Tropeano loud verbal commands as he was being physically aggressive and resisting. Tropeano pushed Deputy Kerns and tried to punch him several times. He was detained and said “nothing” when asked more questions about the woman’s injuries.

Other responding deputies found large amounts of blood and broken glass in the hotel room.

The woman told deputies Tropeano became angry with her while she was speaking to another family member on the phone. Tropeano called her and her family member sexually explicit names. He then broke a wine glass across her face. The woman said Tropeano intended to render first-aid, but first wanted to go to the gas station to get beer. She stated Tropeano has been arrested for domestic violence in the past, which was confirmed by the investigating deputies.

Tropeano was taken to jail where he remained Friday morning under no bail. 

May 26, 2018

Man with knife arrested in Upper Keys incident

A 40-year-old Key Largo man was arrested Friday night for wielding knives during a fight.  

Zaldivar Sandy Isreal was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and battery.

Deputies Tommy Durham, Cody Jackson and Jose Hernandez responded to Harry Davis Circle at 11 p.m. reference a man armed with a knife. There were multiple people at the residence. An argument ensued after someone closed a door and hit another person. One man reportedly punched Isreal in the face. Isreal went to the kitchen, grabbed multiple knives and charged the man as he was attempting to leave the residence.

There were no reported serious injuries.

Multiple witnesses gave similar statements. Five knives were found at the scene.

Isreal was taken to jail.

May 24, 2018

Waiter arrested for overcharging credit cards

A 26-year-old Big Pine Key man was arrested Thursday for overcharging customer credit cards at a Marathon restaurant.

Thomas J. Kerschen was charged with fraud.

Deputy Amanda Coleman spoke with the owner of Castaway Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar on Wednesday. The owner explained that customers told him their cards had been overcharged. The owner investigated and discovered that Kerschen had been transmitting different dollar amounts that what the customers had signed for. Specifically, he was adding more money to the tip than what was provided by the customers. More than 50 fraudulent credit card totals had been transmitted since April worth more than $600.

Kerschen was taken to jail.

Update/More charges in May 11 pursuit

A 42-year-old Fort Myers man involved in a long chase up U.S. 1 is facing additional charges.

Michel Campos Cordova faces four new charges of fraud relating to four stolen credit cards found in his possession.

Campos Cordova also faces multiple counts of fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest, reckless driving, possession of fraudulent credit cards, possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended or revoked license/third or subsequent offense.

The incident began shortly after 1 p.m. when the Sheriff’s Office was alerted of a reckless driver in a black, Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that was northbound somewhere between Mile Marker 63 and 66. Deputy Vincent Torres spotted the truck and followed it. The truck was not staying in its lane. Deputy Torres turned on his patrol car lights/siren and made a traffic stop.

Campos Cordova stopped and was identified as the driver. He was the only person in the truck. Deputy Wilfredo Guerra arrived on scene. Deputy Torres returned to his vehicle to gather information whereupon he learned Campos Cordova’s license had been suspended for failure to pay a traffic fine. Deputy Torres returned to the pickup truck and informed Campos Cordova that his license was not valid. He ordered Campos Cordova out of the pickup truck.

Campos Cordova said he could not do that. Campos Cordova put the truck in drive and fled north on U.S. 1. Deputies Torres and Guerra pursued him with their lights/sirens on. Campos Cordova began passing on the wrong side of the road while forcing other vehicles off the highway. Deputy Torres then discontinued his pursuit near Mile Marker 74 as Deputy Guerra had better sight of the truck.

Multiple other deputies became involved in the pursuit, including officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Campos Cordova ran over multiple spike strips that were laid out by deputies. Sgt. Nicholis Whiteman noted in his report that Campos Cordova was still driving into oncoming traffic while fleeing northbound in Islamorada after the tires on the pickup truck were successfully deflated by the spike strips. The truck was driving on rims by this time.

When the pursuit neared Mile Marker 117 on the Miami-Dade County side of U.S. 1, Campos Cordova stopped and put his hands out the truck window. He came to slow stop after hitting the fence on the northbound side of the 18-Mile Stretch. He was taken into custody by the FWC.

By that time, Homestead Police as well as Miami-Dade police had been notified of the pursuit. Miami-Dade had a helicopter ready to assist in the case.

A partially smoke marijuana cigarette was found inside the vehicle. Seven credit cards were found inside Camps Cordova’s wallet. They appeared to be fake. Further investigation showed that a bank had reported the credit card information stolen from at least six different individuals from across the United States.

Four of those individuals have been contacted by the Sheriff’s Office as of Thursday and verified the cards are theirs.

Campos Cordova was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center in Key West where he remains in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Heavy traffic expected Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year for traffic in the Florida Keys and this year will be no exception. That is the assessment of the Sheriff's Office Traffic Enforcement Unit, which will be out in force during the holiday weekend to make sure people are driving safely.

All Sheriff's Office Traffic Enforcement Officers will be assigned to work the entire holiday weekend and will work county-wide to help supplement road patrol, particularly on Highway U.S. 1.

The influx of visitors is expected to cause traffic slowdowns, particularly southbound in the Upper Keys, on Friday, May 25. Many of those same visitors will leave on Monday and cause slowdowns in the opposite direction on that day. Anyone planning to be on the road over the weekend should plan extra time accordingly.

Residents typically always expect heavy traffic over Memorial Day weekend and this weekend is no different. Sheriff Rick Ramsay urges drivers to be patient and drive safely.

“We will be in particular looking out for people passing in no passing zones, passing illegally in turn lanes, traveling at unsafe speeds and drinking and driving,” he said.

On the water, Sheriff’s Office marine deputies will keep an eye out for unsafe boating practices, particularly drunk boating; many people head offshore to have a good time, but boaters should make sure to designate someone sober to bring the vessel and its passengers back to shore safely.

May 23, 2018

Sex offender arrested for giving false name

A 58-year-old homeless man was arrested Tuesday night for providing the Sheriff’s Office with a false identification after deputies received a tip from Crime Stoppers.  

Chris Steven Fink was subsequently charged for that crime as well as failure to register as a sex offender.

Detective Danielle Malone and Deputy Denise Dery went to the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS) on Stock Island with a warrant for Chris Fink. The Sheriff’s Office received a Crime Stoppers tip that Chris Fink had been staying at KOTS under the name Jaymes Fink.

Detective Malone and Deputy Dery found Chris Fink at that location about 9 p.m. He stated his name was Jaymes Fink and provided a Florida divers license stating the same. Detective Malone and Deputy Dery compared Chris Fink’s tattoos with others on file from the state of Montana. Chris Fink was previously convicted of sexual assault in that state. The suspect was identified as Chris Fink via the tattoos.

Chris Fink was taken to jail.

Partially naked man arrested for auto theft

A 21-year-old Marathon man was arrested early Wednesday morning for auto theft and giving law enforcement a false ID, among other charges.

Nicholas Alejandro Duran, formerly of Miami, was also charged with probation violation and driving without a valid license.

Deputy Edward Swogger responded to a 1:30 a.m. call to on the 1900 block of the Overseas Highway regarding a case of indecent exposure. A hotel security guard there said the suspect left driving a white, Oldsmobile car. The guard stated the suspect, later identified as Duran, left wearing only a towel.

The Oldsmobile was found at another hotel on the 2100 block of the highway. Duran was in the driver’s seat. Duran said he was listening to music. He had on only a towel. He provided Deputy Swogger with three different spellings of his name and three different birthdays. Deputy Swogger contacted one of Duran’s family members in Miami who gave him the correct name for Duran. The family member also stated that Duran was supposed to be at a treatment center in Florida City as part of his probation.

Meanwhile, further investigation revealed the Oldsmobile had been reported stolen out of Marathon.

The guard at the first hotel stated that Duran entered three rooms, removed his clothes and took towels out of the rooms. It was unclear why he removed his clothes.

Duran was taken to jail.

Man arrested for sharing pictures of woman

A 46-year-old Marathon man was arrested for cyberstalking on Tuesday.

Craig Michael Sickles was charged with aggravated stalking.

Sickles had sent the female victim hundreds of texts and phone calls. She had filed a restraining order against Sickles previous to contacting the Sheriff’s Office. Some of the texts were sexually graphic. Sickles told the woman he posted sexually explicit photos of her on social media and other electronic platforms.  

Sickles attempted to contact the woman hundreds of times, so many times that detectives were unable to ascertain an actual count of contacts due to the vast amount.

Sickles was taken to jail.

May 22, 2018

Man arrested for throwing rock at teenager  

A 42-year-old Islamorada man was arrested for throwing a rock at a teenager on Tuesday during an argument over fishing.

Dustin Hugh Strange was charged with aggravated child abuse.

Upper Keys Sgt. Nicholis Whiteman was dispatched to Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada for a battery. Once there, he contacted the 17-year-old victim and his two friends who are 18- and 15-years-old. The three had been fishing on public property near the marina. Strange, an off-duty employee at the marina, took exception to the three teenagers throwing baits and jigs toward the marina dock. A verbal altercation occurred. At some point, Strange left the dock area and walked over to where the teens were.

The 18-year-old turned on his cell phone video. Sgt. Whiteman viewed the video. Strange is seen about five to 10 yards away as he uses profanity. Strange is also seen mocking the teenagers fishing strategy, calling it “dirty fishing” while insinuating they were cheating at fishing. He then proceeds to call them sexually explicit names. One of the three teens returned the verbal volley with his own vulgarity. This appeared to infuriate Strange. More profane verbal exchanges occurred.

Next, Strange is seen on the video throwing rocks at the teenagers. They yell at him to stop, but he throws another. The victim states that one of the rocks struck him behind his knee. Sgt. Whiteman later reported finding a fresh cut on the back of the victim’s knee.

Sgt. Whiteman spoke with the victim and his mother. Both stated they wished to press charges.

Strange denied throwing rocks when confronted by Sgt. Whiteman on the phone.

Strange turned himself in at the Plantation Key jail later Tuesday.  

May 21, 2018

Crime Stoppers tip leads to gold bar theft convictions

Authorities are crediting Crime Stoppers for a valuable tip that led them to make two arrests in the 2010 theft a 17-century gold bar from a museum in Key West.

Jarred Alexander Goldman of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and Richard Steven Johnson of Rio Linda, California, have both subsequently been convicted in federal court in the theft and await sentencing on July 23 in Key West . In 2015, a Crime Stoppers tipster identified Goldman from video surveillance footage.

The case had cooled substantially prior to that tip. When the Sheriff’s Office received the tip it notified the FBI. That led the FBI to both men and it shows how valuable a resource Crime Stoppers can be in solving crimes, said Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Nancy Alvarez, an intelligence officer for the agency.

“This case reflects how vital our partnership with the public is when solving difficult cases and it also speaks to how Crime Stoppers often plays a vital role in facilitating those partnerships,” Alvarez said.

The 75-ounce gold bar of gold was famously recovered from the 1622 wreck of a Spanish galleon the Santa Margarita by storied treasure salvor Me Fisher and his crew of divers west of Key West. The bar was estimated to be worth $556,000 before it was stolen from the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in 2010. Only small parts of the bar have subsequently been recovered.

Anyone with information about crimes can report them while also remaining in anonymous by contacting ForidaKeysCrimeStoppers.com. If a Crime Stoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller may be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-866-471-8477. Tips can also be made via the smartphone app P3 Phone app or via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, by using: @CrimeStoppers305

Crime Stoppers tip leads to gold bar theft convictions

Authorities are crediting Crime Stoppers for a valuable tip that led them to make two arrests in the 2010 theft a 17-century gold bar from a museum in Key West.

Jarred Alexander Goldman of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and Richard Steven Johnson of Rio Linda, California, have both subsequently been convicted in federal court in the theft and await sentencing on July 23 in Key West . In 2015, a Crime Stoppers tipster identified Goldman from video surveillance footage.

The case had cooled substantially prior to that tip. When the Sheriff’s Office received the tip it notified the FBI. That led the FBI to both men and it shows how valuable a resource Crime Stoppers can be in solving crimes, said Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Nancy Alvarez, an intelligence officer for the agency.

“This case reflects how vital our partnership with the public is when solving difficult cases and it also speaks to how Crime Stoppers often plays a vital role in facilitating those partnerships,” Alvarez said.

The 75-ounce gold bar of gold was famously recovered from the 1622 wreck of a Spanish galleon the Santa Margarita by storied treasure salvor Me Fisher and his crew of divers west of Key West. The bar was estimated to be worth $556,000 before it was stolen from the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in 2010. Only small parts of the bar have subsequently been recovered.

Anyone with information about crimes can report them while also remaining in anonymous by contacting ForidaKeysCrimeStoppers.com. If a Crime Stoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller may be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-866-471-8477. Tips can also be made via the smartphone app P3 Phone app or via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, by using: @CrimeStoppers305

May 19, 2018

Man and woman arrested for burglary and drug possession

A man and woman who entered a hotel room they didn’t pay for were arrested Friday night in Marathon.

Kenneth Lucious White, 27, of Grassy Key, was charged with cocaine possession and burglary.

Zoryana Erica Brown, 21, of Key West, faces those same charges as well as a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Deputies Orey Swilley and Michael Maleta responded to the Kingsail Resort motel about 9 p.m. The caller said a man and woman entered a room without paying. White, who is known to deputies from previous encounters with law enforcement, was seen leaving the room. Both deputies knocked on the door. Brown answered. About 4.4 grams of cocaine and a pipe were found in the hotel room.

White was later stopped while driving a vehicle on U.S. 1 near 82nd Street. Two grams of cocaine were found in the vehicle.

Brown and White were taken to jail.

May 18, 2018

Woman arrested for battery

A 38-year-old Marathon woman was arrested Thursday for hitting another woman and cutting her with a knife in a May 12 assault.

Candy Zoe Marroquin was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, battery and burglary with assault or battery.

The victim told Deputy Leon Bourcier Marroquin came to her house in Marathon and began banging on her front door. The victim opened the door and recognized Marroquin as the ex-girlfriend of the victim’s current boyfriend. Marroquin had a small, black knife. Marroquin swung the knife at the victim, cutting her on the forehead. Marroquin grabbed the victim by the hair and continued hitting her. She dragged the victim outside and continued to hit her while she was on the ground. Marroquin struck the victim’s vehicle several times before leaving.

Later that day, Deputy Frank Westerband found Marroquin at her residence. She had bruises on her arm. She could not say how she obtained the bruises. She denied the attack.

There were no serious injuries reported.

A warrant with a $45,000 bail was obtained on May 14.

Marroquin was booked into jail Thursday night.

May 17, 2018

Charges mount for Upper Keys burglar

Charges continue to mount against a 19-year-old man already in jail for marijuana possession and burglary. The charges filed Thursday stem from a break-in at the Key Largo Baptist Church last year.

Timberlen Matthew Terrell was charged Wednesday with multiple counts of burglary, grand theft and larceny.

Terrell was already Monroe County jail for possession of marijuana and for the Dec. 26 break-in at the GG Millworks on Atlantic Drive, also in Key Largo.

Wednesday’s charges stem from the burglary of the Key Largo Baptist Church on Oct. 10, 2017, in which an Apple desktop computer, five checks, miscellaneous gift cards, one Ford key and one Chevrolet key were stolen. He also broke into a church van and stole a SunPass transponder and miscellaneous landscape power tools/hand tools. The total value of all the items was about $7,000.

The stolen Key Largo Baptist Church van was later located in a city of Holmes Beach parking lot.  The van was unoccupied but had damage to the doors and a screwdriver was found in the ignition. Terrell was one of three men found and detained near the van by Holmes Beach police. Terrell was subsequently arrested for marijuana possession. The investigation continued. Fingerprints collected from the van and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab came back matching Terrell.

Terell remains in jail in lieu of $236,000 bail.

Reminder: Marine related thefts are on the rise; keep your property safe

The Florida Keys often sees an increase in outboard boat engine thefts and marine thefts during the warmer months.

The Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies are working hard to catch the people who are committing these crimes. We are doing all we can to keep these crimes in check. We can’t do it alone. We need your help. Like most property crimes, marine related thefts are primarily crimes of opportunity. If you provide the opportunity, a thief will take advantage of it. If you take away the opportunity or at least make theft more difficult, the thief will generally move on and victimize someone else. We would much rather a crime be prevented, whether it be theft of an entire boat, an engine, a lower unit, electronics from on board, or diving and fishing equipment.

Here are a few tips for keeping your property safe:

• Remove the keys from the boat; if it is on a lift, turn the breaker off in the house to disable it.
• Install motion sensor lights. Make sure areas around the boat are well lighted.
• Install surveillance cameras and make sure they will capture the face of an intruder. Cameras are often installed too high and only capture the top of a suspect’s head or the brim of the hat he is wearing.
• Whether on a trailer or in a canal, make sure your boat can be seen by neighbors and/or deputies patrolling the neighborhood.
• Remove the steering wheel if the boat won’t be used for a long time.
• Install a GPS tracking device on your boat and/or engines.
• Install a boat alarm. Alarms are very effective at preventing equipment and boat thefts.
• Disconnect the batteries to disable the trim/tilt function. Keep the engine down, touching the ground so the lower unit can’t be removed.
• If the boat is on a trailer, chain the rims together or boot one of the wheels to prevent the entire boat and trailer from being stolen.
• Keep a trailer hitch lock on at all times.
• Install bolt locks on the engine or put extra-long engine bolts on and bend the ends.
• Destroy the threads on one bolt so the nut can’t be removed.
• Back the boat close to a house, wall, or other stationary object.
• Keep valuable electronics in a secure location. It might be a hassle, but it will save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
• Engrave your driver’s license number or make a distinctive marking on your valuable property for identification purposes.
• Take pictures and record serial numbers if available.
• Don’t leave fishing and diving equipment unattended outside It only takes a thief a minute – literally – to take it.
• If you are gone for an extended period, call your local Sheriff’s Office substation. Our deputies will keep an eye on your property while you are away.

Important: If you see anything suspicious call the Sheriff’s Office immediately! It is our job to check out suspicious activity. Your call may be the one that helps us catch the bad guys! Call 911 if a crime is taking place; call 305-289-2351 if you see something you think may be suspicious. Call Crime Stoppers with any crime tips: 1-800-346-TIPS or text 274637 using the keyword TIP136. Submit tips online at www.tipsubmit.com.

Or Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-346-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.floridakeyscrimestoppers.com or via a text message using the smartphone app called P3 Phone or via social media such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the @CrimeStoppers305 hashtag.

May 16, 2018

Man injured in incident on Big Pine Key  

A man suffered minor injuries early Wednesday morning after a suspected shooting on Big Pine Key.

The names and ages of those involved at the Enterprise Avenue incident were not immediately available Wednesday.

There were no arrests reported as of Wednesday morning. Deputies and detectives were still on scene at that time.

Early reports indicate a disagreement erupted among roommates about 3:30 a.m. What spurred that argument is still being investigated. Early reports are that one man’s head was grazed by a bullet, but detectives are still investigating how the man was injured. In other words, they are investigating if he was shot or injured by something other than a gun.

The man declined medical attention and stated he did not wish to press charges.

Detectives contacted the State Attorney’s Office, which is also reviewing the incident.

May 15, 2018

Child airlifted after snorkeling incident

UPDATE: The child is expected to be released today from the hospital.

An 8-year-old boy from South Carolina was airlifted to Miami Children’s Hospital Monday afternoon after he was found face down in the water off Marathon.

Deputy Jamie Hughes-Buxton responded to Sombrero Beach at 3 p.m. where a good Samaritan boater brought the child near shore. Deputy Jamie Hughes-Buxton waded into the water and carried the boy to shore. The child’s mouth was covered in blood. The good Samaritan stated the child had been coughing up blood during transport.

The child’s father stated they had been kayaking just south of Boot Key. The boy was snorkeling in a full face mask. The child began to float away. The father went to him and found the child face down. The father patted him on the back. The child gasped several times for air.

The child was taken to the Sheriff’s Office hangar in Marathon where one of the waiting Trauma Star helicopters flew him to Miami.

His status was not immediately available Tuesday morning.

May 14, 2018

Man charged with possessing illegal lobster

A 27-year-old Florida City man was found with 12 undersized lobsters after he was stopped for speeding in Islamorada on Sunday morning.

Nacarrio Comer was cited for speeding and given a notice to appear in court for the undersized lobsters.

Deputy Nelson Sanchez was stopped after he was traveling 61 mph in a 45 mph zone on U.S. 1. It was discovered he had 13, live, lobsters in a cooler inside the vehicle. Of the 13 lobsters, 12 were undersized.

Comer said he makes his business by buying live lobsters in the Keys and selling them for a profit on the mainland.

The lobsters were returned to the sea alive.

Woman arrested for sexual child abuse

A 32-year-old Islamorada woman was arrested Sunday for sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl.

Sara Jane Kane was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior/child molestation.

The incident occurred Sunday night. The girl’s father left the residence to make a brief trip to the grocery store. He asked Kane to watch the girl and another juvenile. Kane was staying at the residence and was described as a family friend. The 12-year-old girl told the father and then the Sheriff’s Office that Kane attempted to pull her pants down and asked to perform oral sex on her.

Kane denied it. She was taken to jail.

Woman charged with child neglect in DUI case

A 29-year-old Summerland Key woman was charged with child neglect Sunday.

Erin Alaina Russo was charged with two counts of child neglect, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of drug paraphernalia and DUI.

Deputies Ken Fricke, Alexandra Davis and Jonathan Lane responded to the Winn-Dixie parking lot on Big Pine Key regarding a suspicious woman changing her clothes in a vehicle in front of two small children. Deputy Fricke was the first to arrive and found Russo in the driver’s seat with a small child on her lap. Another small child was in the front passenger seat. Neither child was in a proper child safety seat. One child was 2-years-old and the other was 4.

Russo was behaving erratically by laughing and then quickly crying. She was scratching her skin impulsively. Her pupils were constricted, but otherwise her eyes appeared to be yellow instead of white. Deputy Fricke requested she step out of the vehicle, believing her to be impaired. She stated she was babysitting the children. Their mother was called. The mother picked the children up at the scene.

A hypodermic needle, aluminum foil and a Hydromorphone pill were found in the vehicle.

Russo was taken to jail.

May 12, 2018

Update on Friday pursuit 

A 42-year-old Fort Myers man involved in a long chase up U.S. 1 on Friday afternoon is facing additional charges.

In total, Michel Campos Cordova now faces multiple counts of fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest, reckless driving, possession of fraudulent credit cards, possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended or revoked license/third or subsequent offense. (NOTE: The first name is spelled Michel) 

The incident began shortly after 1 p.m. when the Sheriff’s Office was alerted of a reckless driver in a black, Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that was northbound somewhere between Mile Marker 63 and 66. Deputy Vincent Torres spotted the truck and followed it. The truck was not staying in its lane. Deputy Torres turned on his patrol car lights/siren and made a traffic stop.

Campos Cordova stopped and was identified as the driver. He was the only person in the truck. Deputy Wilfredo Guerra arrived on scene. Deputy Torres returned to his vehicle to gather information whereupon he learned Campos Cordova’s license had been suspended for failure to pay a traffic fine. Deputy Torres returned to the pickup truck and informed Campos Cordova that his license was not valid. He ordered Campos Cordova out of the pickup truck.

Campos Cordova said he could not do that. Campos Cordova put the truck in drive and fled north on U.S. 1. Deputies Torres and Guerra pursued him with their lights/sirens on. Campos Cordova began passing on the wrong side of the road while forcing other vehicles off the highway. Deputy Torres then discontinued his pursuit near Mile Marker 74 as Deputy Guerra had better sight of the truck.

Multiple other deputies became involved in the pursuit, including officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Campos Cordova ran over multiple spike strips that were laid out by deputies. Sgt. Nicholis Whiteman noted in his report that Campos Cordova was still driving into oncoming traffic while fleeing northbound in Islamorada after the tires on the pickup truck were successfully deflated by the spike strips. The truck was driving on rims by this time.

When the pursuit neared Mile Marker 117 on the Miami-Dade County side of U.S. 1, Campos Cordova stopped and put his hands out the truck window. He came to slow stop after hitting the fence on the northbound side of the 18-Mile Stretch. He was taken into custody by the FWC.

By that time, Homestead Police as well as Miami-Dade police had been notified of the pursuit. Miami-Dade had a helicopter ready to assist in the case.

A partially smoke marijuana cigarette was found inside the vehicle. Seven credit cards were found inside Camps Cordova’s wallet. They appeared to be fake. Further investigation showed that a bank had reported the credit card information stolen from at least six different individuals from across the United States.

Campos Cordova was taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Plantation Key where he remained Saturday in lieu of $150,000 bail.

May 11, 2018

Man arrested after chase up U.S. 1

A 42-year-old Fort Meyers man was arrested Friday afternoon after leading the Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement on a chase from the Middle Keys to Mile Marker 117 on U.S. 1 in Miami-Dade County.

Michael Campos Cordova was charged with fleeing and eluding and driving without a valid license.  

The pickup truck Cordova was driving hit at least three spike strips laid down by deputies during the incident. Cordova was driving on three, tireless rims by the time he was forced to stop at Mile Marker 117 just over the Miami-Dade County line. Mainland local and federal law enforcement, including a Miami-Dade helicopter, were involved in tracking Cordova by that time.

There were no injuries reported.

The incident began shortly after 1 p.m. on the Long Key Bridge near Mile Marker 65 where he was reportedly driving erratically. He fled from deputies shortly thereafter. Deputies pursued and were  joined by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers. Florida Highway Patrol troopers also assisted.

The Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement closed roads and continued to pursue. By the time Cordova stopped, had he lost three tires. Other parts of the truck were also breaking off the truck and hitting the highway.

The pursuit remains under investigation.

May 9, 2018

A 41-year-old Islamorada woman was arrested Tuesday for stealing a package in an Upper Keys mail room on March 29.

Christi Annette Gardner was charged with theft.

Gardner was seen on security cameras stealing a package from the mail room of Summer Sea Condominiums, 88500 Overseas Highway, on March. 29 shortly before 5 p.m. The package contained about $110 in beauty products. The Sheriff’s Office shared still images from the security footage on social media and with the media.

Detective Amanda Coleman interviewed Gardner on May 3. Gardner admitted to taking the package. Warrants were issued for her arrest

She was booked into jail on Tuesday.

May 8, 2018

Man arrested for illegal gun possession  

A 27-year-old Key West man arrested Monday on firearm and drug charges.

Jesus Barreto was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by convicted felon, possession of pills without a prescription, possession of marijuana and violation of probation.

Barreto was wanted for violating the terms of his probation stemming from a burglary case. The Sheriff’s Office received information on Monday that Barreto sleeping in a trailer at Roy’s Trailer Park on Stock Island.

Deputies Alexandra Davis, Jonathan Lane and Det. David Fernandez arrested Barreto there without incident. A loaded pistol was recovered as well as two pills and some marijuana. Thirty, separate baggies containing a white, rocky substance that tested positive for amphetamine were also recovered.

Barreto was taken to jail.

May 7, 2018

Man arrested in motorcycle pursuit

One of two motorcyclists who fled from the Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement on U.S. 1 early Monday morning was arrested.

Daniel Alberto Berroa Baez of Broward County was charged with reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, driving a motorcycle without a motorcycle license endorsement and failure to register a motor vehicle.

The pursuit began about 2:40 a.m. after the Border Patrol aired a be-on-the-lookout for two motorcycles speeding near Mile Marker 66. The Sheriff’s Office attempted to make a southbound traffic stop near Duck Key. The motorcycles failed to stop. The Sheriff’s Office did not pursue further for safety reasons. At 2:53 a.m., the motorcycles were clocked traveling 80 mph near Mile Marker 56. Another traffic stop was attempted. The pursuit was again stopped for safety reasons.

One motorcycle had turned off its lights. The Sheriff’s Office again attempted to a traffic stop southbound at 111th Street. Again the motorcyclists failed to stop.

The motorcyclists continued southbound into the Lower Keys, before turning around between Mile Marker 30 and 20 and began traveling northbound.

One of the motorcyclists, later identified as Daniel Alberto Berroa Baez, finally stopped Islamorada. He was taken into custody.

The other motorcyclist continued to Florida City. Law enforcement in Miami-Dade County were notified of the fleeing suspect.

It was not immediately clear Monday morning if Miami-Dade law enforcement found the suspect.

Man arrested in Marathon stabbing

A 46-year-old Marathon man was arrested Sunday for stabbing another man in the thigh.

Guillermo Herrada Olivia was charged with aggravated battery.

Deputy Matthew Corey responded to Fishermen’s Hospital at 4:44 p.m. where he found the victim who had been stabbed in the right thigh with a filet knife. He told Deputy Corey he had been at a friend’s house on Louisa Street drinking beer with friends. He went inside the apartment to get another beer and use the restroom.  Herrada Olivia followed him inside and then stabbed him. The victim stated there was no argument; he was just stabbed. He received several stitches.

Herrada Olivia turned himself in later that day. He appeared to be intoxicated. He stated the incident was over previous disagreements.

Herrada Olivia was taken to jail.

Man arrested for causing a disturbance/threatening deputy

A 33-year-old Islamorada man was arrested Sunday for threating a Sheriff’s Office deputy after causing a disturbance at a restaurant.

Jason Christopher Holloway was charged with possessing a threatening a law enforcement officer, possessing a forged or fraudulent ID and resisting arrest.

The incident began at about noon at the Marker 88 restaurant. A manager there told Deputy Matthew O’Neill that Holloway had been causing problems at the bar and had been asked not to return. On Sunday, he called an employee a racial slur before finally leaving.

Deputies found Holloway on Plantation Boulevard. Holloway at first stated his first name was not Jason. He then stated his name was Jason Robert Holloway. He declined multiple times to provide his date of birth.

He was arrested. A driver license belonging to someone else was found in his possession.

While in route to the jail, Holloway stated “You’re going to have a bad day. I know where you live at. I can find out.” Additionally, Holloway stated he had contacts in the DEA who could assist him in locating Deputy O’Neill’s address.

Upon arrival at the Plantation Key jail, Holloway was non-compliant with the booking process and continued to refuse answering questions.

May 6, 2018

Man arrested for Facebook threats

A 47-year-old mainland Florida man has been arrested following an investigation into threats posted on Facebook in March in which he threatened to murder everyone at a Key Largo bar.  

John Dominick Aglio was charged with intimidation/written threats to kill or injure. Aglio was found and initially detained in Pinellas County. Aglio was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island on Saturday.

A man contacted the Sheriff’s Office on March 22 in which he stated he saw Facebook posts written by a suspect, later identified as Aglio. The posts included statements that Aglio intended to “murder everyone at the Caribbean Club.”

The Facebook posts included statements that Aglio’s uncle was found shot to death on Card Sound Road more than three decades ago. The expletive-laden posts suggested people at the Key Largo bar know or knew what happened to his uncle given his uncle had been to the bar previous to his death. Aglio posted that he was going to make people at the bar “all pay one at a time.” He made other threatening statements, such as “they don’t know what the word hate really means” and urged them to “enjoy the good times while you can.”

Uppers Keys Detective Lance Hernandez investigated the case.

Aglio was found, arrested and booked into the Stock Island jail on $1 million bail.

Man arrested following brief pursuit

A 30-year-old Duck Key man was arrested at gunpoint in Marathon late Saturday night after fleeing from deputies attempting to make a traffic stop.

Richard Jose Rodriguez was charged with fleeing and eluding and possession of marijuana.

Deputy Joel Torres was near 109th Street at 11:48 p.m. when he saw a Ford Explorer with only one working headlight. He got behind the SUV and turned on his emergency lights. The SUV turned onto 109th Street and quickly accelerated. Deputy Torres turned on his siren as well. The SUV made a series of turns during the course of the brief pursuit. The pursuit ended on the 10000 block of Aviation Blvd. where the driver, later identified as Rodriguez, had stopped.

Deputy Torres ordered Rodriguez out of the SUV with his service gun drawn. Rodriguez was taken into custody without further incident. There were no reported injuries.

Rodriguez told Deputy Torres he was on probation and there was marijuana in the SUV. Rodriguez stated he had multiple felony convictions including grand theft of an automobile and armed burglary.

A plastic bag with 25.8 grams of marijuana was found in the SUV.

Rodriguez was taken to jail.

May 5, 2018

Man arrested for Friday fire on Big Pine Key

A 49-year-old homeless man was arrested Friday night for starting a fire in a shopping cart that quickly became an uncontrolled brush fire.

Wynn Edgar Messenger was arrested as part of a joint investigation among the Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in which the FWC was the lead agency. Messenger was charged with malicious land burning and failure to control or report a dangerous fire.

The fire caused some evacuations in the area near 24th Lane and Wilder Road. The fire burned about a half-acre of land. Monroe County Fire Rescue firefighters were still battling hot spots after 9 p.m.

Messenger admitted to starting the fire in the woods where he lives. He stated he started the fire in a shopping cart.

Messenger’s arrest is not related to the large fire on Big Pine Key last month that destroyed a house and another structure.

Messenger was taken to jail.

Man arrested for possessing gun, marijuana

A 20-year-old Marathon man was arrested early Saturday morning for possessing a handgun and marijuana.

Elysee Paul was charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a concealed weapons permit and possession of marijuana.

Deputy Orey Swilley conducted a traffic stop at 1:43 a.m. on U.S. 1 after seeing a speeding vehicle fail to maintain its lane. The driver, later identified as Paul, was the only person in the vehicle. Deputy Swilley smelled marijuana and ordered Paul out of the vehicle.

A loaded, .380 handgun was found tucked in Paul’s sock. Also in his sock was about one gram of marijuana. Paul stated he was “holding the gun for a friend.”

Paul was taken to jail.

May 4, 2018

Man arrested in hit and run

A 27-year-old Key Largo man wanted for fleeing from deputies last month was arrested Thursday night after he was stopped for erratic driving.

Ilias Agelis was charged with hit and run, fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license.

Upper Keys Deputy Ignacio Molina stopped Agelis near Mile Marker 100 in a 2012 Honda CRV. The sport utility vehicle was swerving and traveling at a high rate of speed. The Honda almost hit a vehicle that was attempting to park. He was arrested due to a warrant for fleeing an eluding and leaving the scene of a crash stemming from an April 22 incident.

In that incident, Agelis failed to stop for deputies after he was speeding near the same stretch of U.S. 1. A chase ensued and ultimately crashed a black Mazda truck into some trees near Ocean Bay Drive and East Drive. Agelis jumped from the truck and fled the scene on foot. He left identification in the truck. Deputies learned that he had three previous DUIs and that his license had been revoked in January. He has had multiple driving without a valid license convictions.

Agelis was booked into jail Thursday night.

Marathon man faces more theft-related charges

A 60-year-old Marathon man who was arrested Wednesday for stealing power tools from a construction site is facing more charges stemming from another theft.

Silberio Santana Diaz was initially charged with burglary and larceny. On Thursday, additional charges of fraud, larceny and dealing in stolen property were added.

Diaz was arrested for stealing some power tools from a construction site. Det. Sgt. Spencer Bryan recognized Diaz as a suspect in other burglaries in the Marathon area. Det. Sgt. Bryan interviewed Diaz in jail whereupon Diaz admitted to stealing a TV set from Kmart before selling it at a pawn shop.

Det. Sgt. Bryan went to the pawn shop as well as Kmart. Det. Sgt. Bryan took steps to ensure Kmart would get its TV returned.

Diaz remains in jail.

May 3, 2018

Men arrested for sexual assault

A 37-year-old Homestead man and a 26-year-old Key Largo man have been arrested for sexually assaulting a teenage girl in separate incidents.

Pedro Cupertino of Homestead and Ariel Cruz Morales of Key Largo were both charged with sexual assault.

Morales was arrested late Wednesday night and Cupertino was arrested Thursday morning.

The victim was 14- through 16-years-old when the incidents took place.

The investigation included the Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida Department of Law Enforcement as well as the Sheriff’s Office. The teenager was placed in the custody of DCF when authorities were notified of the crimes.  

The victim stated the incidents with Cupertino began in 2015. She stated the incidents with Morales began in 2016.
The victim stated she was forced to have sex with Cupertino. She stated he used his cell phone to videotape some of the incidents. She told investigators Cupertino was also verbally abusive as well as physically abusive.

The victim stated Morales also had sex with her in a separate incident apart from Cupertino.

Arrest warrants were issued for both men. Both men were booked into jail.

The investigation is ongoing and more charges and arrests may be pending.

Sheriff’s Office Detective saves boater

Quick thinking and alert boating discipline helped an off-duty Sheriff’s Office detective and his wife save the life of an overboard boater Wednesday afternoon.

Upper Keys Det. Sgt. Mark Coleman, who is also the Sheriff’s Office Dive Team leader, was planning on going kiteboarding with his wife, Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark, Wednesday afternoon in the bayside waters off Islamorada. Rain rolled in and the couple decided to take their boat back when they spotted an overturned catamaran while heading toward Snake Creek. Moving closer, Coleman spotted a man clinging to the sail. The man yelled that he was OK, but his friend, Tommy, had fallen overboard and was not in sight.

Coleman called the Coast Guard and relayed the information. He then drove his boat upwind and began searching. Coleman and Cammy found Tommy — the names of the men were not immediately available — about 20 minutes later in rough seas without a life jacket.

The man was weary and grateful as he was provided a warm blanket and water. He stated he was happy he hadn’t fallen overboard in the frigid waters of his native Denmark.

The Coast Guard arrived shortly thereafter as Coleman returned to the catamaran. Both men were loaded onto a Coast Guard response boat and taken to Coast Guard Station Islamorada. The two men had been sailing and rolled over due to the fast-moving storms that blew through the area, Coleman said. There were no serious injuries reported.

“It just shows that it pays to be alert and vigilant while on the water,” Coleman said. “It’s the responsibility of every boater to constantly be aware of your surroundings and to help those in distress.”

Coleman has lived in the Keys and been a member of the Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years. Clark is also a longtime Keys resident. The couple lives in Islamorada.

“I’m pretty sure the men would have been out in the water all night if not for Mark’s eagle eyes,” Clark said.

The Coast Guard is the investigating agency for the incident.

May 2, 2018

Public help sought in theft case

The Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in solving an Upper Keys theft cast.

The female pictured was seen on security cameras stealing a package from the mail room of Summer Sea Condominiums, 88500 Overseas Highway, on March 29 shortly before 5 p.m. The package contained about $110 in beauty products.

The package was clearly marked with the victim’s name and address. The package was also clearly marked with the manufacturer’s name: Ulta Beauty.

Security footage shows the suspect at 4:48 p.m. walk into the mail room. She can be seen looking at packages left on the ground by the delivery companies. The suspects looks at each box and the labels on top of the boxes. A short time later a male subject walks in to check his mailbox. At this time the suspect walks toward a different section of boxes acting while continuing to act like she is looking for her package. At 04:49 p.m. the suspect walks out of view of the cameras. Security footage then shows the male subject walk away and the suspect returning at 04:50 p.m. The suspect immediately grabs the box mark Ulta Beauty and quickly walks away with it.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Deputy Nicholas Thaler at 305-664-6480.

Juvenile arrested for Marathon vehicle burglaries

Sheriff’s Office detectives in Marathon used fingerprints to identify a 15-year-old boy wanted for nine vehicle burglaries in December.

Warrants for burglary and theft were issued and the boy was arrested by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

The burglaries occurred at night on  50th Street and 50th Court.

All the vehicles were unlocked when they were entered. Three cell phones and two flashlights were the only things of significance taken from the vehicles aside from some miscellaneous change.

May 1, 2018

Registered sex offender arrested  

A 29-year-old North Carolina construction worker wanted for stalking and battery of a 16-year-old Marathon girl was arrested Tuesday.

Jeremy Miguel Anderson has been living in Marathon while working on a construction job.

The case stems from Anderson’s interactions with a young hostess at a Marathon restaurant late last month. The girl told Sheriff’s Office deputies that she doesn’t know Anderson. Anderson put his arm over her and hugged her several times very tightly while placing his head below her chin, almost on her chest. Anderson called her “beautiful” and that he wanted to meet her father. The girl told him no, forcefully, several times and added that her father would not like him. These incidents occurred without the girl’s permission and against her will. Anderson asked if they could exchange numbers. Again, the girl responded, no.

The incidents caused the girl to hide elsewhere in the restaurant until Anderson left.

The girl later positively identified Anderson in photo lineup.

Anderson was convicted in Pitt County, North Carolina in 2011 for indecent liberties with a minor who was 13-years-old when he was 22-years-old.

Anderson is currently registered as a sex offender with the Sheriff’s Office.

He was booked into jail Tuesday afternoon.